McCain being presumptuous

August 15, 2008 at 6:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s being written about – on page 14. But at least they’re writing about the man who called himself President – before the election:

Standing behind a lectern in Michigan this week, with two trusted senators ready to do his bidding, John McCain seemed to forget for a moment that he was only running for president.

Asked about his tough rhetoric on the ongoing conflict in Georgia, McCain began: “If I may be so bold, there was another president . . .” He caught himself and started again: “At one time, there was a president named Ronald Reagan who spoke very strongly about America’s advocacy for democracy and freedom.”

And yes, they decided to bring up the old “Obama is presumptuous” attacks.
Continue Reading McCain being presumptuous…

Right Intention and the Bush Administration

April 20, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Posted in buddhism, George W. Bush | Leave a comment

Right Intention follows Right View in the Eightfold Path. I’ll link to Access to Insight again for an explanation:

The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness. The three are opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention: intention governed by desire, intention governed by ill will, and intention governed by harmfulness. Each kind of right intention counters the corresponding kind of wrong intention. The intention of renunciation counters the intention of desire, the intention of good will counters the intention of ill will, and the intention of harmlessness counters the intention of harmfulness.

The Bush Administration claims to be governed by “Compassionate Conservative” or “Christian Conservative” principles. It claims to be the heir of the “small government” school of thinking.

If George Bush had gone to the White House with Right Intention, we would be in a much different position today. Renunciation is the opposite of desire, and who would not prefer a government that renounced rather than a government that desired? Renunciation is the path to peace, desire is the path to war. Renunciation is the path to fiscal stability, desire is the path to debt and ruin. Renunciation is the path to appointing those who will do the job they need to do for the common good, desire is the path to appointing those who will work only to benefit themselves and those in power.

Good Will reduces purposeless partisanship. Good Will creates meaningful debate that has, at its center, the interests of the nation at its heart.

The Intention of Harmlessness may strike some as dangerous, after all, a nation must defend itself. There are some people who believe that the only way to be strong and safe is to be a bully. As we all know, though, they who live by the sword, die by the sword. The Intent of Harmlessness means that your actions are done with the intent of peace. As a nation, this means increasing foreign aid, intervening in genocides, and working against nuclear proliferation. These make a nation more secure. Torture, indiscriminate killing of civilians, ignoring a drowning American City, this can only be done with the Wrong Intention.

Eightfold path – Right View and diplomacy

April 18, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Posted in buddhism, George W. Bush, international relations | Leave a comment

The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism is the path to enlightenment. Even if you don’t seek to become a Buddha, though, considering the lessons of the Path would be a great benefit to whatever goal you want to achieve.

The Path is not a series of steps to be accomplished one after another, but as I have limited time these days, I want to examine each aspect individually and apply it to the Bush administration. Today I’ll look at Right View and Foreign Policy.

Right view is the forerunner of the entire path, the guide for all the other factors. It enables us to understand our starting point, our destination, and the successive landmarks to pass as practice advances. To attempt to engage in the practice without a foundation of right view is to risk getting lost in the futility of undirected movement. Doing so might be compared to wanting to drive someplace without consulting a roadmap or listening to the suggestions of an experienced driver. One might get into the car and start to drive, but rather than approaching closer to one’s destination, one is more likely to move farther away from it. To arrive at the desired place one has to have some idea of its general direction and of the roads leading to it. Analogous considerations apply to the practice of the path, which takes place in a framework of understanding established by right view.

One doesn’t go down a road without considering how you’ve arrived in your current location, and where the road leads. It seems like a simple enough lesson, but think of all the problems that the Bush administration’s foreign policy has created because of a lack of Right View.

The Access of Evil speech lead to a long impasse with North Korea, an increasingly menacing Iran, and a debacle in Iraq. It lead to decreased respect and power, it lead others to misunderstandings, mistrust, and general dislike of the United States. It was an unnecessary policy that examination of the past and thoughts about the future would have prevented.

When you ignore advice and facts because they do not fit with your view of the world, you are bound to failure. The world has never bent itself to fit into one person’s preconceived notions. There is only one truth, no matter how much you may wish it otherwise.

WHO and Taiwan

April 17, 2007 at 8:54 pm | Posted in China, Taiwan, WHO | Leave a comment

I’ll never understand why the World Health Organization is content to play petty national politics with Taiwan when so many potential pandemics come out of East Asia. Director Margaret Chan decided to go ahead and put her foot in it again this past weekend.

Regardless of your standpoint on the whole “one-China” thing, it is absolutely preposterous to bring the whole mess into the realm of global health. It’s hard for me to understand why reasonable people can’t come to a reasonable solution over Taiwan. But it’s impossible for me to imagine why anyone interested in preventing the next black death would bother playing footsie with Beijing and turn a blind eye to the rest of the world’s symptoms.

Wingnut Constitutional Saints

April 13, 2007 at 10:35 am | Posted in Constitution, Don Imus, Legal, Liberal, Politics | 2 Comments

There appears to be a sizeable segment of the population that feels being fired for making sexually and racially inappropriate comments at work is somehow akin to constitutional martyrdom. For your amusement, therefor, I offer you the Ten Wingnut Saints of the Constitution, persecuted unfairly by a system gone haywire.

The First Amendment: Saint Imus

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Also, you can’t fire a dude just because he thinks black chicks look funny.

St. Imus is the Patron Saint of all who have been fired or unfairly subjected to scrutiny because of sexist and racist behavior.

Martyred on April 12, 2007.

The Second Amendment: Saint Dick

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. It’s also OK to shoot a guy in the face if he’s strongarmed later into forgiveness.

St. Dick is the Patron Saint of all who suffer from criticism and general mistrust because they happened to shoot someone in the face.

Martyred on February 11, 2006.

The Third Amendment: Saint Rummy

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. Sending “the army you have” overseas to die in a war of convenience and bombing the piss out of brown people is totally cool.

St. Rummy is the Patron Saint of those who lose their jobs because they quartered soldiers away from their families, without proper body armor or rest and recuperation periods.

Martyred on November 8, 2006.

The Fourth Amendment: Saint Alberto

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Except for the guy who’s in charge of this stuff, he’s off the hook.

St. Alberto is the Patron Saint of those who fire employees for political purposes, hide the evidence, lie to these employees and the public, and then are unfairly subjected to subpoenas and warrants without probable cause.

Martyred on April 10, 2007.

The Fifth Amendment: Saint Scooter

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. But if you do testify against yourself, people should ignore it because you can’t expected to always tell the truth under oath.

St. Scooter is the Patron Saint of those who can’t help lying to prosecutors, and then find themselves indicted for perjury.

Martyred on March 6, 2007.

The Sixth Amendment: Saint Clarence Scalito

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. Unless they’re really, really, really dangerous according to a secret document that we can’t let you see.

St. Clarence of Scalito is the Patron Saint of those who want to help the President give speedy secret military trials to certain unspecified citizens in order to free up our court system from the overload of judicial work it is unfairly burdened with.

Martyred on August 28, 2006.

The Seventh Amendment: Saint Delay

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. And if you’re going to take 20 bucks as a bribe, you might as well take a few mil, eh, Duke?

The Patron Saint of those who are unfairly persecuted for corruption in matters exceeding $20 before their trial has begun, oftentimes resulting in disgraceful resignations from office without the order of a jury.

Martyred on April 3, 2006.

The Eighth Amendment: Saint Pat Robertson

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Unless you’re gay, liberal, non-Evangelical, or otherwise threatening to paranoid old rich WASPy dudes

St. Pat Robertson is the Patron Saint of those who find themselves under fire for advocating totally uncruel punishments, like assassination, torture, and the fiery, fiery deaths of those who disagree with them.

Martyred on August 22, 2005.

The Ninth Amendment: Saint Santorum

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Except for the right of privacy, which is totally made up by atheist liberals.

The Patron Saint of those who find it notable for some reason that the word “Privacy” doesn’t actually appear in the bill of rights.

Martyred on November 7, 2006.

The Tenth Amendment: St. George

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. Except for the power of individual states to resolve voting inconsistancies in Presidential elections. That should totally be decided by partisan justices.

St. George is the Patron Saint of all of those who eventually find themselves under fire by a majority of the population for consistantly breaking the rules and remarkably poor performance at the job they were appointed to fulfill.

He also got out of the required sainthood martyrdom, too, thanks to Poppy pulling a few strings. Dang.

The other “surge”, China’s ForEx

April 12, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Posted in China, George W. Bush, globalization, international relations, Iraq | 5 Comments

China just announced that its Foreign Exchange reserves are up over 37% from last year.

China’s foreign exchange reserve reached 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of March, up 37.36 percent from the same period last year, the People’s Bank of China announced on Thursday.

“The rising trade surplus is the major factor contributing to the forex reserve boom,” said Cai Zhizhou, an economist with Beijing University. Low prices of Chinese goods contributed to the rising trade surplus, he said.

1.2 trillion dollars, sitting in Beijing, thanks to the continuing belief in one myth: Democracy will somehow magically appear if you throw enough money or troops at a nation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in the notion that the United States should be relentless in the intelligent pursuit of a better world, where all humans are treated with dignity and live without the fear of violence from their government, neighbors, or abroad.

But let’s be clear: the money that is flowing into Beijing isn’t creating a Democratic society, nor are the troops flowing into Baghdad. The American people continue to get poorer, and more than a few continue to die, because of the continual belief in the idea that Democracy can magically appear.

For thirty years, we’ve been led to believe that throwing money into China would make the nation more Democratic, but nothing has changed. As James Mann points out in his new must-read The China Fantasy, American leaders (many of them Democrats, unfortunately) continue to promote this fantasy.

We’re fortunate that public opinion is beginning to change in Iraq, but withdrawal is still a long way away. How much farther off, then, are we from realizing our China policies need a significant overhaul? Unfortunately, it appears that we’re all-too-willing to bankrupt our nation to support a Stalinist regime.

A tribute to Kurt Vonnegut

April 12, 2007 at 9:32 am | Posted in Kurt Vonnegut | Leave a comment

No one else captured the sheer idiocy of modern war and violence better than Kurt Vonnegut. I’m sure the web will be filled with a million little pieces of memory–shards of a broken mirror, reflecting tiny pieces of a literary giant, so I will be brief and to the point.

Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle will forever be two of my favorite books. Perhaps my favorite moment in all of Vonnegut when Billy is talking with the Tramalfadorians about Jesus. They believe the story would be better if Jesus had simply been the son of a Carpenter, rather than the son of God. To inspire hundreds of millions of people to lead (ostensibly) better lives for two thousand years without any super powers, that would truly be a miracle.

How much better would the world be if, instead of attributing to divinity whatever middling successes humans manage to pull off, we instead gave the credit to the men and women, and to humanity itself? Perhaps if we thought that every individual had the capacity to be divine, regardless of creed or color, there would be less bloodshed. Or perhaps, like the Tramalfadorians, we’re doomed to know how our worlds will end, and will stand idly by instead of working to stop it.

Vonnegut is dead. So it goes.

Turkey steps up rhetoric on PKK

April 11, 2007 at 6:54 pm | Posted in George W. Bush, international relations, Iraq, Kurds, Turkey | 2 Comments

With all the talk about the success of the surge, Washington has been strangely quiet about the increasing tensions between Turkey and the Iraqi government. Today, Turkey upped the ante by reviewing its military options against suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq.

For now it seems that Turkey is holding back, but one of the specific results of the US invasion has been a strengthening of Kurdish power in Iraq, inspiring Turkish Kurds to step up their own campaign to power, including acts of terrorism.

Of course, we know that the Bush administration is particularly good about ignoring regional diplomatic concerns in Iraq, but if this steps up there will hardly be a border in Iraq that is not a potential flashpoint for future conflict. A responsible president would immediately put this fire out, but, then again, a responsible president wouldn’t have started an unnecessary and illegal war.

Anti-intellectualism

April 8, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Posted in buddhism, Zen | 1 Comment

It’s no secret that anti-intellectualism is becoming more common in the USA. There’s a visceral reaction among many prominent media figures when the idea of expertise is brought to the fore, be it in the field of foreign policy, domestic policy, science or anything else.

Much of the problem rests in the heart of evangelical Christianity, which teaches that one needs no knowledge outside of scripture. This includes, ironically, the study of the origins of the bible itself, including translation issues, authorship issues, and historical accuracy.

To me, there is no higher crime than chosen ignorance. This is why Buddhism is where I place my faith.

Indeed, he who moves in the company of fools grieves for longing. Association with fools is ever painful, like partnership with an enemy. But association with the wise is happy, like meeting one’s own kinsmen.

Certainly, there are Zen lineages where Monks are encouraged to ignore worldy pursuits to focus on their studies, but this is a far cry from enforced ignorance on lay people.

I think Christianity as a faith has much to teach everyone. On Easter, I’m reminded of the potential for rebirth, and I do hope that there are some who can lead the Christian faithful back to the path of reason and science and away from the dangers of anti-intellectualism.

CNN, off the charts

April 7, 2007 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Egypt, media, Steny Hoyer | Leave a comment

So I click on the CNN.com headline Congressman meets outlaw Muslim group leader, expecting to see news about a Democrat endangering the world, because, of course, it’s CNN and they botch everything. And, my god, did they botch this headline.

If you click on the story, you learn that Steny Hoyer (D-MD) met with a banned opposition leader in Egypt. CNN matches the Bush administration in hypocrisy.

The United States has put pressure on Mubarak regarding other opposition figures including Ayman Nour, a secular politician who was jailed after challenging Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections. But Washington has remained silent on similar campaigns against the Brotherhood.

Proving once again that the Bush administration and the Neocons at CNN love them some democracy, as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with Islam.

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